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Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
8 hours to go – you guys are really polishing those jewels up to the last minute eh :ironicat:


Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
On that note if you ever wanted to judge a week with like five entries this is shaping up to be your chance

make your dreams come true

Oct 30, 2013
Prompt: Diablo II
1032 words


“I think I see it now. Maybe fifteen minutes away,” Lyra said, peering into the distance. She could not see the town directly, but the smoke rising above it was a dead giveaway.

“Are you sure it’s safe to go alone?” The voice asked. Carrie was back at the farm, safe and sound. She’d cling to the radio every time Lyra was out.

“No, but I wouldn’t be better off in a group. I’d be putting others at risk, too.”

“Oh. I guess so. Just hate the thought of you getting hurt. Or worse.”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“What were you going to look for, anyway?”

“Anything, really. Medicine, food, weapons, ammunition; whatever helps us get by.” Lyra sighed. “Just hope this backpack is big enough.”

“I still think you should have brought Dad’s gun.”

“What, and alert every demon in town?” She entertained the thought. It amused her more than it should. “Listen Carrie, I’m going to have to cut the radio before I hit town. See you soon?”

“Okay,” Carrie replied. “Oh, and Lyra?”


“Don’t die. Please.”

“Of course,” Lyra replied before she tucked away the radio and continued towards the smoke.

As Lyra approached the deserted suburbs, she paused to survey in front of her.

The entire neighborhood was covered in ash, reaching as far as the eye could see. There was far more than she’d ever seen in the countryside.

The roads, trees, grass, buildings, all buried under a thick layer of white. If it were closer to winter you could almost mistake it for snow, but the air was warm; uncomfortably so, and a stale air penetrated her nostrils.

Despite her fears, there was not a beast in sight.

“Christ,” she muttered, wrapping a scarf over her face. She moved further into town.

Leaving the suburbs, she cut across a field, not far from the main street. Only a fence stood between her and the loot.

Near the end of the field, she suddenly heard rabid, frenzied barking. She turned around; seeing what looked like two dogs, jet black and with flames for eyes, rapidly approaching. “Oh no,” Lyra thought, and started running.

“gently caress, gently caress, gently caress!” The barks grew louder; not far behind her. She reached the end of the field, only just barely managing to scale the fence before the dogs slammed into it. The dogs kept barking. She had to get out; they’d only attract more. She turned into a nearby alleyway and dashed into a backdoor, locked it behind her.

Lyra slid down against the door, panting.

The dogs were still barking. Her dad called them hellhounds. He’d shot a few of them when the demons first appeared. They expected more to come, but most demons stuck to the cities. Or what’s left of them.

The barking slowly died down, only to be replaced by sounds of grunting and scampering. “From one hell to another,” she muttered. She could hear the creatures crawling outside, scanning the area. They were called imps; incredibly stupid, but curious, and they always roamed in packs. She had to be quiet.

After what felt like hours, the sounds died down again. She got up, looking around the building. She was standing in the old general store. An elderly man named Henning had run it for as long as she could remember. Her dad used to stop by every other week. She still remembers his thick, rimmed glasses, infectious smile as well as how long Dad would stay and listen to his ramblings. Dad mentioned Henning had fought in “the war”, but not which one.

To her surprise, most shelves were still stocked; rows of canned foods, medicine, batteries, alcohol and more filled the aisles. Only a thin layer of dust would suggest how long the store’s been abandoned.
Lyra put down her backpack, starting to fill it with whatever fit.

Her mind wandered to her family back at the farm. Just a few weeks ago she was getting ready to leave for college, and now navigating hell on earth just to survive. She mulled over Carrie’s words. “Don’t die.” It sounded easier back then.
Lyra topped off the backpack with a handful of food cans and zipped it shut.

Just as she was preparing to leave, she noticed a figure staring by the storefront.

She froze.

It was humanoid in shape, tall, easily 8 feet, with horns protruding from its head. She hadn’t seen a demon like it before. Before she had a chance to react, the beast charged at her, bursting through the façade as if it wasn’t there.

Lyra was pinned against the wall, hitting it with such force that she felt the air leaving her body. It had an inhumanly strong grip, squeezing her body tightly. She looked into its eyes, but saw only fire in the sockets. Feeling the energy leaving her body, she reached for a knife she kept in her belt socket. She fumbled, but eventually got hold of it. With her last ounce of strength, she drove the knife deep into the neck of the demon. The demon roared out in pain, dropped her and began stumbling.

Not long after, the fire went out and it fell on the grund, dead.

Lyra lied next to the now-dead demon, motionless. A pool of blood had formed between the two.

She wasn’t sure how long it took before she came to. By the time she did, the blood had dried and the sun was going down. She gathered her belongings and peered outside.

The town was quiet. The ash and smoke was gone. The air felt cleaner. Bodies were lying on street, but they weren’t human. They were small, slender and with long claws. Imps. Some had gaping wounds, others were missing entire limbs.

Carefully, Lyra trekked back through town.

When she reached the suburbs again, she paused. Someone was watching her in the distance. The figure had a faint, white glow around it. Lyra stared back. For a while, they simply looked at each other. The figure began moving, seemingly uninterested in her.

Back in the woods, Lyra got out her radio. “Carrie, are you there? I’ll be home soon.”

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Time Flies Like a Bullet

Prompt:Max Payne

~1250 words

The killer with my dead lover's face pulls the trigger, her gun pointed right at my forehead.  Mine’s out too, pointed straight at her heart.  I’m good as dead already, with a fraction of a second to shoot back and take her with me, but the Slowdown flashback has already hit, so I’ve got plenty of time to make my decision.

Slowdown was our drug, Julie and me.  Did just what you'd think, made seconds feel like hours. We stretched out highs from other drugs, from simple sex, from a quiet sunset on a South Carolina Beach. There's a price, though. There always is. Slowdown’s not addictive. The opposite. The more you take, the more often the effect hits you at random, stretching out moments of pain and boredom until you can barely bear to keep on living. We weren't there yet, but we were getting close when someone took a crowbar to Julie's throat.

I've never been any kind of investigator. When I've been able to hold down a job it's been pounding out dents and changing out oil and batteries. But the police, well, the police were less than useless.  Everything they said translated to “We’re sure it was you, but we can't prove it just yet.  Want to confess?” So I figured the only way her killer would ever get what they've got coming is if I found them.

The bullet has cleared Tara's gun. Its spiraling motion is mesmerizing.

Slowdown doesn't let you move any faster. I can't dodge the bullet. The only muscles that can keep up with your brain under its effect are the ones that move your eyes.  First couple of times going Slow everyone works those so hard their eyes ache for days after.

Julie and I were together more than two years, in normal time.  I thought I knew her pretty well, but there were lots of big things I didn't find out until after she died. That she came from money, old money. That she was married to some other old money guy named Franklin for four months before getting an annulment. That she had a twin sister. All this I got from public records. I started to think this detective business might not be as hard as it looked.

Two days later I was taking punches to the gut and face from Franklin Sauer Jr. while two of his guys held my arms.  He didn't ask questions, because I didn't know anything he didn't already. He didn't give warnings because I already got the message.  Stop digging. They left me bruised and aching on the floor, and the Slowdown in my system kicked in, turning a few minutes struggling to my feet into hours.

Franklin’s money was dirty as the Devil’s own unwiped taint.  Used his businesses and fortune to launder money for the Russian mob. Julie's family found out, cut her out of the will and trusts.  Their lawyer called to tell him about it and he kicked her out of their house before hanging up.  Did she know some secret of his, from when they were together?  If it was worth killing over then why wait another three years? Franklin was an rear end, but if he was behind Julie's murder I couldn't figure out why.

My eyes are rolled up as far as they go, tracking the bullet.  It won't be long before I have to make my choice.  Squeeze the trigger or let the gun drop from my hand.

I found the man who actually killed Julie, the one who swing the crowbar. Our dealer, Joe, no last name. He stopped slinging in our neighborhood right after, which got me thinking. I asked around, found his new corner. He ran when he saw me.  He had a buddy out there, guy named Lucas, trying to be a lookout and hired muscle at once. He wasn't good at either.  We had a little conversation, the three of us, Lucas, me, and my right fist. Lucas told me where Joe lived.

I got there first. When he found me waiting, holding the blood-stained crowbar in my hand, he was eager to talk. Thing is, he didn't have much to say. He was paid to do it, and didn't know who was doing the paying. Used dead drops and burner phones.

I didn't kill him. Hurt him real bad, hospital bad, permanent disability bad, and made him swallow half his own stash before I started, to make it last. I thought it would make me feel better. It didn't. Joe was just a tool, just a bullet. I still had to find the person who pulled the trigger.

I can't see the bullet any more. I move my eyes back to Tara's chest, tracking my own gun.

Tara was my last suspect.  I found out that her dad stroked out a few weeks back, was nearly a vegetable now. Tara was calling the shots. Maybe Julie got her name back into the will, and her little sister wasn't ready to share? It was thinner than the sole of a ten-year shoe. I was getting ready to have a talk with her when the frame started to come down on me.

A marriage certificate in the mail, signed by me and Julie and a justice of the peace. Never happened, but there's the proof. Life insurance papers for policies I never took out, with my signature expertly forged on them too. Money in my bank account out of nowhere.  I withdrew as much cash as the machine let me and ran.  Only dumb luck that the cops were too lazy to follow up on the tip fast enough to catch me when I picked up the mail.

I feel it, the worst headache I've ever had, all concentrated on one spot on my forehead, inches above the top of my nose. I make my decision.

I went back to my apartment, three days later. Dumb move, but I needed my notes. I wrote everything down, hard copy, since I figured I might have to ditch my phone. The police tape was already cut. I had a gun, the first thing I bought with the frame-up money. I took it out, walked inside.

Tara was there, searching through Julie's things. She'd just found the notebook, in her middle drawer. She turned. She had a gun, too, and whipped it around to address my head. We faced off for a long moment.

“Murderer,” she said, and shot me in the head.

She thought I killed Julie. I can hardly blame her. The frame was solid. If she'd been the one who put it on me, the one who hired Joe she'd know better. If she was killing me to put a bow on the set-up job she would have done it to look like a suicide, barrel to skin rather than across the room.

The pain shoots our in six directions at once as my gun slips out my fingers, unfired.  The cracks in my skull spread, split, turn everything to pain. She's the last thing I see before everything goes red. She looks so much like Julie.

This is going to take a while, but I'm just about out of thoughts that aren't pure white agony. I hope she reads the notebooks, finds the one in my pocket as well, hope she figures out what I couldn't, hope the killers don't get her first.

She looks like she can take care of herself.

Apr 12, 2006

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 05:14 on Jan 3, 2018

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
you can still lose if you submit late so dont worry about it

Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer
prompt: Space Station 13


First Magical Engineer Jamison exploded. To be precise, his component particles simultaneously began journeys with unique itineraries. The broken atomic bonds released sufficient energy to obliterate any nearby planet. However, the Sphere of Inner Deflection that the ArchWizard had courteously provided contained the blast. Still, the incandescence that illuminated the conference room of the ship Don't Argue With The ArchWizard made the assembled bridge crew squint.

"Let that be a warning. The next clown who says any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic gets a fireball in the face," said the ArchWizard. He inhaled, loud and long, as if he could sniff out any hint of technofetishism. "It's not funny, it's not clever and it's not true. Who was that, anyway?"

"Sam Jamison, your Presdigitousness," said Captain Fitzgerald of the Please Calm the ArchWizard Down For All our Sakes. "In charge of, er, previously in charge of Magical Engineering, and responsible for generating propulsion via Singularity Hammers. Useful to have around for acceleration. Or changing course. Or stopping."

The anger drained from the ArchWizard's face, replaced by a disturbingly toothy grin. "Then we'd better bring him back. He's lucky - usually I'd just absorb him whole. But while I may be ArchWizard by virtue of my vast accumulated magical power, sometimes we need the little people." He mumbled a quick ritual and the Sphere of Deflection collapsed. The particles found their tickets cancelled and the passports confiscated. They hung around, twiddling their thumbs and coalescing back into a Jamison. There was a brief burst of g-force as Jamison's personal web of magic caught up with its planned singularity hammer emission.

"Now, as I was saying. The crew of the Bit Of A Narrow Escape, That is widely regarded as the best in the fleet. Brains, magical talent, an extraordinarily large number of third nipples. None of which, I hasten to add, require batteries." He paused, and a polite but nervous laugh rippled through the crew. The ArchWizard smiled again, wider this time, showing more teeth than Jamison thought was entirely plausible.

"But," he continued, "we have a problem. Or more particularly, I have a problem, which means that you have a problem."

"Technically," said Jamison, "that does mean that we have a problem."

"Thank you, Jamison," sneered the ArchWizard . "I see you have learned a vast amount of nothing since your recent obliteration."

Captain Fitzgerald of the ArchWizard Problems Usually Result in Extreme Death, Just Saying coughed once. "And, ah, what is the nature of this problem, ArchWizard?"

"It is a threat to everything we hold dear," said the ArchWizard. "A threat to the foundations of magic itself."

"It's technology isn't it," said Jamison.

"No, it bloody isn't," said the ArchWizard. A ball of fire appeared in his gnarled hand, but this time Captain Fitzgerald was ready. With speed and dexterity found nowhere else in WizardSpace he offered the ArchWizard a gin and tonic. The flame disappeared and the ArchWizard grabbed the glass. He downed it in one hit.

"Thank you, Captain," said the ArchWizard , still scowling at the Engineer. "You're on thin ice, Jamison. Now, the nature of the problem is this…"


"What do you think?" Captain Fitzgerald asked Jamison after the rest of the crew had left and the ArchWizard had teleported himself and the gin bottle back to his stateroom.

Jamison checked his nametag. The ship's designation was currently Run, Run, Get The Hell Out Of Here. "I'm inclined to agree with the ship."

"I'm not entirely sure that Context Sensitive Naming spell was wise," said Fitzgerald, his face a wry grimace. "But what the ArchWizard said - could that be true? A null-magic zone spreading across WizardSpace?"

"Smacks of advanced physics to me, no matter what the old bastard thinks."

"Maybe." The Captain looked thoughtful for a moment. "How would you even begin to counteract such a thing?"

At that moment, klaxxon bells klanged. Both Jamison and the Captain looked down at their nametags, and found themselves aboard the Oh Crap, It's Right Outside And Getting Closer. They rushed to the bridge, passing the occasional lightning flashes of Wizards teleporting to their stations. The ArchWizard was materialising, staff in hand, his face a curious mixture of disgust and anger, his breath a miasma of gin fumes.

"Crystal Ball," said the Captain, "Illuminate."

In the center of the bridge a glass sphere flickered, revealing a ghostly starmap. Within it, a convenient arrow pointed out the current location of the Save Me, Save Me, Please!, a tiny pinprick of light on the edge of a region of utter darkness.

"Is that the null-magic zone?" asked one of the bridge crew. "What's happened to it?"

"I think we just can't see into it," said Jamison. "Our stellar ley-line network won't be operational inside. It can't report out of it, so it's dark."

"Ideas?" asked the Captain. Nobody replied. A nearby clown honked a horn and started making a balloon animal. Jamison watched in fascination as the elongated balloon twisted in the clown's hands, with different parts shrinking and growing as the possibly-a-giraffe took shape.

"Captain?" asked the ArchWizard. "Why is there a clown on the bridge?"

"That's Tim. Powerful wizard. He's on reduced duties at the moment. Terrible story..."

"Then don't bore me with it. I hate clowns." The ArchWizard raised his staff and an Inner Deflection Sphere appeared around Tim just before the clown disintegrated. A thin outpouring of glowing energy spilled from the sphere, wrapping around the ArchWizard, whose craggy face underwent a paroxysm of pure ecstasy. Then the sphere collapsed, empty but for a pair of too large shoes and a red nose.

"Ah, I needed that," said the ArchWizard.

"Look," said Jamison, pointing to the crystal ball. The darkness beside the ship began to grow, threatening to engulf the Well, It's Been Nice Knowing Y'all. "At this rate we'll be inside it in seconds. I don't think all the singularity hammers in the galaxy can reverse our course in time."

"Sorry," said the ArchWizard, "but I can't stay - the rest of the universe needs me, you know." He began the ritual of Vast Travel, and his robes began to fade.

"Sure, leave," said Jamison, "but think about it - this whole thing must be technological somehow. It can't be magic by definition, but it's indistinguishable from it."

"What!" screamed the ArchWizard, missing the final words of the ritual. His cloak flapped back into material reality as he raised his staff. "You guttersnipe! I warned you."

At that moment a wave of null-magic washed across the Bridge as the Ah, gently caress It entered the zone of darkness.

Without magical life-support, everybody on the bridge began floating. And suffocating. Except for the ArchWizard, who became suffused with an incandescent glow. He rose, arms outstretched, and then simply exploded in a firestorm of magical energy.

Jamison felt himself thrown into the wall of the bridge, and then, a second later, deposited without ceremony onto the floor, safe in the comforting grip of gravity. He took a deep breath and found the atmosphere also restored.

"What the hell was that?" said the Captain, picking himself up.

"It was the ArchWizard, Sir," said Jamison. "The balloon animal gave me the idea. You squeeze one part, and the other end gets bigger - he was literally sucking up all the magic, causing the null zone. I just lied about technology to keep him here until the zone overtook him, dropping his safeguards and releasing his magical stores."

"Huh," said the Captain. "Sounds plausible. We'll go with that. Better scan for any sign of the ArchWizard, just to be safe."

"One low therg transmission found, sir, just above the cosmic background thaumaturgy."

"Let's hear it!"

Across the bridge of The Indistinguishable From Magic came a ghostly whisper of sound.


Apr 14, 2009

Cry 'Mayhem!' and let slip the dogs of Wardlow.
The Effects of Stressors on the Creativity Displayed in Simple Logic Problems
Prompt: Portal
1298 Words

After I signed the consent form, the lab assistant began detailing the study.

“You will be tested on your ability to create a logical path from one dot to another dot. You will be measured on your time to completion and other factors I can’t disclose. When I leave this room, you will have five minutes to think about these instructions. After five minutes, I will return with a sheet of paper.

“On the paper will be two dots, one blue, one orange. You must connect them in a logical and understandable way. There is no time limit for the task, but again, you will be evaluated on your speed.

“At any time you may signal your desire to stop the test. You will still be paid for your time if you opt not to complete the task. Your five minutes of planning begins now.”

I was offered $50 to participate in this study. In the five minutes before the sheet was laid in front of me I thought of all the different ways to spend the $50. I imagined walking to the liquor store each day for the next month to buy a pint of whiskey.

When the paper was finally set in front of me I was imagining going to a nice restaurant, ordering a lobster and a single glass of white wine. What a waste that would be.

I was not given a pen or pencil to mark the paper.

I debated just folding the paper diagonally so that the blue and orange dots touched each other. This seemed like a smartass solution. I felt uneasy. I felt watched. They definitely heard me and were probably recording audio, if not video.

I folded the paper diagonally such that there was a crease connecting the orange and blue dots. I disregarded the part of my brain that imagined the lab assistant sighing at my action. I felt crazy.

I began poking holes in the paper with my thumbnail. As thick and durable as the paper looked, it gave way to my thumb quite easily. I created a perforated line in the crease I had made.

I indulged the people running the study and pretended to admire my handiwork. I hoped my face showed a sort of cleverness that I did not actually feel. What I felt was dread; dread that I was doing things wrongly, that they would walk in here and say, “Wow, you are the worst participant we’ve ever had. There’s no way we can pay you for your time. Please leave.”

I removed the bits of paper that still obstructed the blue and orange dots. This was the most difficult part. I didn’t want there to be extraneous cracks and tears in the paper. Just a clear and invisible connection between the dots.

When I finished I sat the paper on the table and scooted my chair backwards. I sighed and stared in false appreciation at my completion of the task. I felt I looked smug, but could not be sure if my features conveyed it properly.

There was a chime behind me and I turned and watched the experimenter walk towards me.

“Thank you for your time. I will now lead you back to the lobby where you can wait to receive your payment,” they said. Their expression was unreadable behind reflective glasses.

Before I could stop myself I blurted out, “Well, how did I do?”

The examiner opted for a patient silence and a patronizing smirk. “I don’t analyze the results, I just facilitate the study. The lab director will be responsible for analysis. You’ll receive your results by email in a week or so.”

“That isn’t good enough!” I heard myself shout. “I’ve been so stressed out and I thought you’d tell me if I did it right or not.”

“One minute, I’ll bring in the lab director.” The examiner left.

I was left alone with the blankness of the room and the whirr of central heat. Time passed in unconscious chunks. I was beginning to calm down when a tall man in casual wear stepped into the room holding a few papers.

He walked over to the table and peered down at my work. He grunted and shuffled through the papers. I stared at him and rocked back and forth.

“Well,” he began. “This is an odd case.” The man seemed to take two or three long breaths each time he spoke. “Based on your results I’d like to have you come to our other lab and begin part two of the study.”

“Does that mean I did well?” I couldn’t contain my excitement. Finally, someone could see my intelligence.

“Your results are intriguing. Your intellect seems high, but this is just a diagnostic. Here,” he handed me two papers, “this is the consent form for part two.”

I signed it with a shaking hand. The man gestured me to the door.

“Someone will contact you tomorrow to schedule your part two. Thanks again for coming in.”


It’s been about a month since I moved into the testing lab. Every new test is more challenging than the last, but I’ve managed them all. Each test consists of connecting the blue and orange dot. Sometimes it’s three-dimensional, sometimes it’s not; sometimes they play music, sometimes it’s in complete silence.

If this is an intelligence test I must be doing well. When the examiners come in they regard me with awe. Today they only had one test for me. It was wheeled into my room on a metal cart. I collected myself the way I developed over my months of testing. Several deep breaths with eyes closed. Several deep breaths with eyes opened.

At first glance, it was the same as part one of the study. The dots were identical, the paper seemed identical, but it wasn’t. The paper was shiny and smooth instead of coarse. I weighed whether this meant anything. Surely this test was too simple, just a repeat of my first.

I sighed and ripped the paper exactly as I had before. The buzzer that normally accompanied the completion of a test did not buzz. The door to my room unlocked and the director of the study came in. He stood near the door and looked at a paper in his hand.

“Thank you so much for participating. I have to debrief you now. This study was not a test of intelligence, as we led you to believe. We were testing creativity under oppressive conditions.”

He placed a pen and a piece of paper on the cart, covering up my “test.”

“If you would please fill out this debriefing form and sign there at the bottom, you’ll be free to leave. A lab assistant will pay you on your way out. Again, thank you for your time and effort.”

He stooped down to ensure we made eye contact before finishing, “By signing and accepting payment, you’re agreeing not to discuss this study with anyone. They could be potential participants after all.” He nodded to himself and started to leave.

“But how did I did? Didn’t I do well?” I gripped the pen and stared at him.

“Frankly, sir, we were never evaluating your solutions for anything but their creativity. All of the puzzles have fairly obvious solutions. We were surprised at how little you noticed the inconsistent food and water. And you never once asked to have your waste bucket changed. It’s all there in the debriefing form.” He left, shaking his head.

“No! I’m not signing this. Bring me more tests! I’m brilliant, God damnit!” I shouted similar things as I was dragged out of the building.

Now I wait until the results are published. Surely they’ll acknowledge the cleverness of my solutions in their final report.

May 21, 2001

The Rightful Heir
Prompt: Pokemon RedGreenBlue
1207 Words

"What makes a good candidate anyway? They all just look like loving kids to me, though I assume there is some sort of scientific process or methodology," said Briggs, a ranked official who wore a uniform, emblazoned with various ribbons and medals.

"I'm sure the candidates are chosen for a reason. Why don't we call someone from logistics up here to break down the process for future reference?" replied Fletcher. He wore an identical uniform with mostly common effects, though each man also had a few unique decorations.

The system in place had both men in charge of separate research teams. Based on new discoveries and analyses of past results, either one had the authority to call for an experiment whenever their respective teams made enough progress to warrant one. Despite this, the experiments themselves were considered a collaborative effort and were overseen by both figureheads. The two had met that afternoon to conduct a trial based on the research of Fletcher's team. For this round, there would both a test subject, and a handler candidate involved.

A loud bell interrupted the exchange. As the ringing subsided, a green light attached to the corner wall came on. "Looks like we can meet with them later. It's starting." Briggs said, sitting up in his chair and stretching.

He pressed a button on the console before him and began to speak into an embedded microphone on the face of the unit. "Block 38. Lone subject, Standby," Briggs announced. Both men then leaned in, eyes fixated on a panel of displays extending upwards from the console. Captured from a dozen different angles, several teenage boys were assembled on both sides of a residential street. It could have been any street; there were no landmarks that stood out, and the houses in the neighborhood were less than remarkable. On one side of the road, three boys stood next to each other in a line. Opposite was a lone boy, the most drab in appearance of the whole lot. The trio huddled close briefly to exchange some words, and with a synchronized grunt of encouragement, they dispersed back into formation.

Each of the three produced a small, spherical object from their pockets which they then, in turn, hurled directly at the curb. With three soft crashes similar to the sound of glass bottles shattering, that side of the street was enshrouded in a veil of charcoal-grey smoke. Their opponent simply stood and looked on, completely unfazed. As the smoke began to clear, there were three small cat-like animals standing in the street lined up in front of the boys, poised and ready to strike. Assessing each threat, the drab looking boy smirked, winded his arm back, and slammed his own sphere into the pavement with all his might. A much larger mass of grey smoke swirled outwards, obscuring all in sight.

"I hope this goes well," Briggs whispered to Fletcher, as the pair waited for the smoke to clear up. They were joined by many other sets of eyes, watching from various other departments. He continued, "Frankly, I want nothing more than to put this whole thing behind us before we get in too deep."

Fletcher chimed in, nodding, "The sooner we can move on to other things, the better. That's why I decided to take a risk on this one."

Fletcher's words took a second to reach Briggs. When they did, he expressed concern. "Wait, what kind of risk?"

After a tense half-minute or so, the smoke had thinned enough that the silhouette of a majestic beast could be made out, much larger than anything else present. Briggs jumped out of his chair in disbelief. "Dammit, what did you do? You know we can only guarantee subjugation on subjects up to weight class delta!" he exclaimed. "That thing must be at least-"

"It's a Zeta," Fletcher interrupted, with confidence.

As the last of the smoke drifted away, the beast let loose with a fearsome roar that almost instantly sent all opposition scattering in different directions. Its handler smiled confidently, and with a gleeful cackle, pointed squarely at one of the fleeing creatures. "GO, Endymio-"

With a bone-shattering crack, the sharp jaws of a four-thousand-pound Hippopotamus ground to a close, reducing the boy's skull to fragments caked with brain matter. If it were possible for the boy to scream out in horror in the seconds it took the beast to spin around and relinquish the rights to territorial sovereignty of the southern bank of Willow Street from him, his ignorant pride had certainly distracted him from doing so.

Briggs sat silently, now resigned to a corner of the room with his head buried in his hands. Fletcher was striking the face of the console lightly with his forehead in repetition, at roughly the same rhythm as the hippo, seen on one of the displays above, was thrashing the bottom half of the boy's torso against the sidewalk.

The door swung open with a thud as a man wearing a navy-blue suit burst into the room. He addressed the two with steadfast patience and a giant smile on his face. "So. What are you two gently caress-ups calling that one?"

The two defeated men gave no answer as the suit paced around their station, examining them both. "Well?", He folded his arms, awaiting an answer. "Go ahead. Mark it in the books!"

".. Block 38. Codename: King of the Jungle. Failure."

"King..heh .." the man in the suit chuckled briefly before finally losing the last of his patience. "KING.. OF THE loving JUNGLE?" Droplets of saliva flew to every corner of the room as he fumed at the pair with all his rage.

Briggs was looking at the floor and shaking his head and holding back laughter, while Fletcher stood by completely stupefied. The berating continued:

"Do you have any idea how much that loving specimen COST? Marcus over at accounting is going to poo poo right down my neck. Get your asses over to Damage Control. I don't care if you're there all night, get that.. THING back in one piece." He had calmed down considerably. Accidents were common enough in his line of work.

".. What about the candidate?" squeaked Briggs, glancing briefly at the monitor where the bottom half of the boy's mangled torso lay in a pool of blood and entrails.

"Oh. Don't beat yourselves up over that, it's just some loving kid," the boss said with a smirk, adjusting his tie.

As the pair shuffled out of the room, the subject had already wandered out of range of the lenses placed at the test site. They would have their hands full for the rest of the evening with the clean-up and paperwork, then return the next day with adjustments in mind. To save a lot of headaches, the Damage Control Department ultimately decided to write the species of beast used in this experiment off as incompatible for future trials, no questions asked. Thus, the blame for the failure would be placed neither on the rash choice made by Fletcher to use a grossly overweight subject, nor logistics for choosing a candidate with insufficient training. This decision was considered by many to be hypocritical.

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

Call of Duty
1500 words

Aslak's eyes snapped open as his skin froze, adrenalin flooding his chest like ice water. For a sick moment he was sliding sideways, for another long second was weightless. A thunder of impacts filled the truck's cab, angry demons battered his back and arse through his seat's padding while the overrevved engine roared. The seatbelt strangled like a serpent and his stomach backflipped, screams filled his ears as the truck trailer tore from tractor, metal twisting and parting in a grinding roll. A final, brutal blow to the side of his head, and nothing more.


When Aslak woke again he was hanging from his seatbelt, cold coffee running up his nose and into his eyes. Heartbeat thumping in his ears, he looked around wildly at the unfamiliar cab of the truck. Gradually he slowed his frantic breathing and for a while simply listened to the idling engine and watched thick snowflakes softly build up on the windscreen. The glow of the GPS display caught his eye, his position a dot on an almost blank screen. Maybe there was still a chance. He turned off the ignition, released his seatbelt, and dropped heavily onto his head. "Perkele."

"Voi perkele", Aslak repeated, looking over the wreck of the stolen truck by stuttering headtorch light. Standing thigh deep in snow, his hands were already freezing inside the too-small workgloves he'd found under the dash. The battered cab was on its roof, toplights crushed and wing mirrors broken off. A few metres towards the road lay the trailer on its side, doors bent open and snow spilling in. The beam of his torch barely penetrated further through the blizzard, and looking away from the road nothing was visible beyond a shifting wall of blinding white. Absent-mindedly he reached into the deep pocket of his coat and took out a slip of folded paper, carefully shielding it from the wind in a cupped hand. Removing a glove, he dabbed with a finger at the pale yellow paste inside and rubbed it into his gums.

The inside of the trailer was a mess. Squeezing between scattered boxes of cheap bikes, crates of made-in-Vietnam sportswear and pallets of energy drinks, he wasted minutes looking for skis. Finding none, he settled for a pair of snowshoes and two mismatched but unbent ski poles. No goggles either, but another check of the cab turned up a cap with the legend 'Juicy' across the front. He strapped snowshoes to boots, pulled the cap down and his hood up. He checked his pockets again: GPS and paper fold were there, so was the precious, magic document - gained in secret, hidden for months until tonight. His back was already stiffening and his head hurt like a night of salmiakkikossu, but his legs were jittering and his vision bright. They'd have noticed his absence by now and would be looking for the truck. Icy roads wouldn't stop them. Get away from the truck. Get over the border. Only the trolls could save him now.


snow shoeing in an arctic blizzard it isn't as bad as you'd think once you get past the cold and the dark and the snow and the sound and the time it's cold certainly jeans are frozen like thin cardboard and every step chafes those thighs, should have spent more time on the ski trails but who has time you're working all the time and they'd never let you anyway, wouldn't want you runnning away, hah, toes are long gone to feeling but that's OK, who needs them or fingers either really, you can grip poles just as tight without feeling without feeling is better and it's the core that's important hold onto the core and you'll be dark isn't really the word either, there's plenty of light out here in the night but it's all bouncing back off those beautiful fat glistening flakes in front of your eyes and look up and they fall on your nose and eyelashes, open your mouth and let them come in, the headtorch is useless that's why it's off, blind is easier in this easier just to walk by feeling, lean against the wind and it won't steer you wrong being out here alone is the worst, but alone is safe, if they find you you won't be alone any more will you and you hate to leave the kids but they know it's not really you don't they they'll find someone else won't they it's too much to ask of one man and it's been far too long it's been far too long to get to the trolls they'll be coming


Lying on his back, Aslak watched the lights. The snow had stopped he didn't know when, and for a while only the rhythmic crunching of his snowshoes had disturbed the stillness. One snowshoe was gone now. Later his teeth had clattered in sympathetic syncopation, but that had ended too. The stars had been tiny sparks in the dark, painfully sharp against the black sky. Gradually though a pale mist had settled in high above, obscuring the stars, and as the landscape grew brighter he had begun to see the colours. Now he lay in the warm, gentle snow as green spirals edged in brilliant pink fluttered across the night. The last of the paste was gone, but despite the bitter taste still in his mouth he didn't really feel like getting up any more. The scenery was aglow, mountains reflecting the colours above and distant rocks sparkling with verglas, leaving long furrows in the otherwise pristine snow as they approached.

"Mitä vittua?" As he staggered to his numb feet, Aslak heard the horrible jingle of sleigh bells above.

He lurched forward, running from the bells. He risked a glance back in time to see the sleigh landing, not slowing its headlong rush as the reindeers' flashing hooves touched down, the beasts' hot breath visible like an oncoming steam train. The trolls ahead seemed hardly to be moving at all, and despite frantic efforts Aslak's own pace was little better, his frozen limbs flailing as he repeatedly fell waist deep in soft snowdrifts. Rising once again, he pulled the bright red passport from his pocket and held it aloft, shouting the words he'd memorised.

"Redd meg, troll! Jeg er halvt norsk!"

Suddenly the rocks were much closer and much larger, the crags of misshapen faces visible above the geology of their powerful, compact bodies, brushing the deep snow aside carelessly as they strode forward. Behind him, the bells rang out again, closer too. Aslak turned. Dashing through the snow came the sleigh, the reindeer straining against their harnesses, coats steaming. On the sleigh rode dozens of hideous elves, rows of sharp teeth visible in their overlarge mouths, eyes screwed up in rage as they shrieked curses at him. One near the front held aloft a fake white beard, its glossy nylon curls shining in the light of the aurora. Aslak screamed. He tried to run, fell in the snow again. Pounding hooves bore down on him, grinding tectonics approached from behind. Aslak pushed up once more and with the last of his strength threw himself out of the path of the sleigh.

Reindeer met rock with an impact that shattered bones and chipped boulders. The heavy sleigh dashed on, smashing a troll to the ground as the elves leapt off, snarling. The remaining trolls roared as they lumbered forward, rocky fists grasping for the slippery elves. One elf, too slow, was torn in half, but others swarmed the trolls, needle teeth sliding between granite armour into softer sediment below, long fingers plucking diamond eyes. Elves fell to the thrashing of blinded trolls, smothered in the snow beneath huge feet or skulls dashed open by wild blows. Those trolls still with sight regrouped and readied to charge again. The surviving elves rose to face them. Suddenly Aslak felt bony fingers around his neck, harsh breath spitting in his ear.

"You think you trolls save you? We defeat them thousand years ago and we defeat them again today." The fingers gripped tighter, throttling him. Aslak tried to gasp, too weak to fight.

"You are ours. You are always ours." Aslak's sight blurred with tears, his lungs burning and head pounding. Darkness again.


"Welcome in Santa Claus Village on Lapland's magical Arctic Circle", said the smiling guide, the bells on her green hat gently jingling.

"Meeting Santa is free, photos are twenty euros."

Kate pulled free from her mother's hand and ran through the empty waiting area, pushed open the heavy door. In the next room a man with a huge white beard and a red hat sat on a wooden throne, staring into space. Shy now, Kate crept forward and climbed up onto his lap.

"Santa?" she asked quietly.

The man looked down at her at last. Behind the gold-rimmed glasses his eyes glistened, deep black shadows above rosy red cheeks.

"Ho, ho, ho", he whispered.

Prompt: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
:siren: TD SECRET SANTA PEOPLE :siren:

Posting pictures/details of any presents you've received from your santa is a cool and fun thing to do! No pressure, but go ahead if you'd like!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Phoenix Sonata
Game: Hatoful Boyfriend
(988 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Jan 5, 2018

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.
928 words

Super Mario Bros

Today's word is CONSEQUENCES. It tears through her eyes and blasts down her optic nerves and, despite her efforts, Andrea thinks about it. CONSEQUENCES: like when you jump without looking and you break your drat ankle; or when you waste your last bullet. If she looks up, pushing her head against the chair's restraints, she can see that moment on the old stone wall, refracted in the beads of water that roll down. She pushes against the straps holding her arms behind her back. There's a little give.

Yesterday, it was FRIENDSHIP. The aliens cooed over her memories of FRIENDS. They clicked to one another wordlessly, the thick sounds coming in waves with each new acquaintance, friend, lover; each new edge of the word that was FRIENDSHIP. They jittered and shook so hard they almost lost their grip of each other's hands. But they really like CONSEQUENCES. There she is: dust falling from her fresh-cropped hair, leaning against the wall with the .44 in her hand, still breathing. Two shots left. The last of their soldiers scuttling at her, slow and unafraid, though the dust and the smoke, picking their way over Mark, and Colbane, and Art; two left. She raises the pistol and puts a round right through the lead one's head and it crumples and she draws a breath and there it is, just as she remembers: that halcyon moment where the whole drat world comes shining into focus and the image on the wall sharpens and she takes the second shot, just like on the training ground, aiming for the brain. She misses, of course, but she knows that already. It lunges for her then and she flinches now, feeling the cold stab of the broken glass in her back pocket.

Her interrogator turns to her. It is the biggest of them: its six legs are each a tree branch thick. The others don't say a word: instead they cling to one another, communicating as they do by direct physical link. It reaches behind her head, adjusts the harness, and looks to the speaker affixed to its chest. “Inquiry: CONSEQUENCES?” The playback freezes on the first shot and it waves a spindly arm at the wall. “Indicate - CONSEQUENCES.” The thing's head is halfway exploded, its mandibles flailing as the face above caves in. The interrogator leans in. She can smell its breath: it makes a sharp dank tang, like orange peel left out in the sun. It points to the head. “CONSEQUENCES?”

With an effort, Andrea pulls her head over and looks it in the eye. “Consequences,” she says. “You don't know a drat thing about consequences.” Maybe that fucker on the wall learned a little something in the instant before her bullet pulped its cortex, but that'd be a clue. Maybe they could have worked it out from the radio, from all those words humans flung into space. Maybe they could have worked it out from all the losses: that maybe, just maybe, there was some kind of connection between invading the Earth and getting shot in the goddamn head. She figured they didn't know much about FRIENDSHIP, but they really ought to know about CONSEQUENCES.

It hits her, hard, in the face. She cries out and writhes in her restraints, each jolt of movement loosening the straps and edging her left hand closer to her back pocket, where the glass cuts against her skin. “CONSEQUENCES,” it says, the speaker crackling faintly. “Indicate – CONSEQUENCES.”

The playback moves on to the second shot. She can see her mistake now: with her ankle bust she's off-balance. She could have done better. She should have done better. It leans in closer. It's within killing distance: she can put the glass right through its larynx and put one last alien bastard down before the rest put an end to her. Otherwise, one day, they will run out of words to ask about. Her fingers clench around the glass so tightly that she can feel warm slick-wet blood. All she needs to do is-


She looks back to the wall. They've zoomed in. Now the wall is nothing but a gigantic .44, lit with muzzle flash. “CONSEQUENCES?” There is a moment, then, of the kind that gets caught in amber. They are all looking at the gunshot. Except for the interrogator, who looks at her. Andrea thinks about CONSEQUENCES.

Andrea slides the glass back into her pocket and releases her grip. “Aye,” she says. “CONSEQUENCES.”

There is a guttural ululation amongst the aliens. She's heard the sound before. It's the same one they make over the killed and the captured: perhaps a BATTLE CRY, perhaps merely CELEBRATION. As always, it is loud and harsh and quick and they immediately begin to file out. The interrogator stands still and watches them leave. It lays a hand on her cheek, as if to stroke it. “CONSEQUENCES,” it says. “Acquired.” With a gesture, the projection shuts off and she is left with the old castle wall and the darkness. It closes the door behind it.

Once their myriad footsteps fade, Andrea laughs, gently. She pulls her arms from the restraints and massages life back into them. Then she carefully replaces them, and redoes the straps just tight enough to pass muster. Tomorrow there will be a new word, and she'll tell them all about that one too. One day, when the tide turns, they will try to talk, to negotiate, to beg: and then, she promises herself in the deep dank dark dungeon, they will learn what CONSEQUENCES means.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Kaishai posted:

For the love of little green apples, Thunderdome, :siren: stop putting your prompts in spoiler tags unless the judges ask you to do so. :siren: Posting them with your story is fantastic, but please do so in a way that's easy to see and record.

Don't edit your post if you've already submitted this week. Just bear this heartfelt request in mind in the future.

It's been a while since this post, and I'm getting the feeling a reminder may be useful!

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

Rage Quit, Restart (<1410 words)

PROMPT: Bad Rats: The Rats' Revenge

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 02:25 on Dec 28, 2017

Feb 25, 2014

547 words


flerp fucked around with this message at 20:24 on Dec 28, 2017

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


The Die Is Cast
Prompt: Overwatch
1352 words

Milliseconds before the plasma sword carved through her torso, Cleopatra turned off her pain receptors. The feeling of the burning blade slicing through armor, flesh, and cybernetics still was disconcerting. There was pressure, then a feeling of emptiness. Moments later, her implants sent her brain into hibernation mode.

She awoke from body death in the reconstruction bay, bio and robo techs already mostly done with her repairs. Her killer, Aurelia, stood over her watching. “Good fight,” she said.

Cleopatra tested her systems. Most organs were functioning again. “It was,” she replied.

Aurelia nodded, and left.

Hundreds of other repairs were taking place in the bay, a warehouse of frenzied robotic arms, techs, whirring blades, sparking forgers, and bubbling vats. There was little to do but watch the holoscreens that were dotted around the bay. They were displaying a replay of her fight in the arena. Cleopatra cringed, watching as her missteps led to her inevitable dismemberment. Aurelia’s glowing blade had come down at just the wrong angle, avoiding her parry with the caduceus staff. The plasma ignited her flowing white robes, the sort of pyrotechnic brutality that viewers reveled in and made the Battles so popular. Perhaps it satiated some primal thirst--watching live humans slaughter each other—that robotic and virtual combat didn’t. For now, though, it meant that the bio techs had to install another freshly grown set of intestines.


The Colosseum quarters were packed with an absurd parade of augmented humans dressed in ridiculous armored costumes meant to evoke everything from ancient Sumer to modern fashion. Cleopatra passed by a nine-limbed man with a gold face as she ducked into the library.

As usual, the place was deserted, except for a single man lounging in the corner, sparks crackling from his white plated armor. Cleopatra pulled a tablet from the library’s singular, stout shelf and sat next to him, handing him the tablet.

He logged on, then handed it back. After a time, he sighed. “I don’t know why you bother.”

“I like studying history,” Cleopatra said. “It’s interesting reading about my namesake.”

“No, not that. I don’t know why you keep trying to convince me.”

They sat in silence. In the hall was the grumble of people passing. Somewhere down the hall, a loud holoscreen was replaying the latest Battles again. Cleopatra glanced over at Barca’s screen. He was reading about his own namesake again. “What do they have you fighting next?”

Barca didn’t look up. “Another battle recreation. The Battle of Alesia, one-hundredth scale, so around two thousand soldiers. As usual, they’ll have a few humans as the heroes, and the rest will be robotic warriors. They’re building the fort, city, and trenches in the alpine arena now.”

Another long silence. “It’s so interesting, reading about these different societies. Knowing that society doesn’t have to be like this.”

Barca sighed dramatically. “I should have never let you start reading the histories. It has turned you intolerable.”

“I’m still surprised they let anyone bypass the censors.”

“They needed me to be able to read up on the old battles they want me to fight.”

“For historical veracity? They hardly bother with it anywhere else.”

Barca laughed. “You mean Cleopatra didn’t wear armored heels into battle, and Hannibal Barca didn’t really shoot lightning from his hands?” He waved a hand. “I figured out why they bothered. One of the oligarchs likes ancient history. He was the impetus behind me.”

Cleopatra sat up. “How did you learn about one of the elites?”

“It doesn’t matter. I know why you’re here. I’m not going to join your little rebellion. Now be silent.”

She grit her teeth, but held her tongue.


Cleopatra met Aurelia in the winter arena. This time, they would be fighting together. Above them, camera drones hummed about. It was a standard Battle, five to a team. Their opponents started with a volley of plasma bolts and guided missiles. Cleopatra used her caduceus staff to generate a shield that deflected the plasma, while Aurelia shot down the missiles with her lasers. Then their team broke for cover.

The first phase of the battle was mostly trading shots as the teams maneuvered and converged.

In the end, it dissolved into a melee, as the fights usually did. Aurelia led with her plasma sword, while Cleopatra deflected the plasma from one of the enemy jetpacks so that it caused him to spiral into a rocky crevasse. It ended with mechanical and biological parts littering the field, and an eventual victory. Cleopatra never saw the plasma bolt that cut a hole through Aurelia’s head.


“It happens,” a tech told her as they finished repairing her own superficial damage. “Brain death is rare, but irrepar--”

“Shut up,” she told the tech.


The Colosseum liked to cultivate rivalries, and brain death of a fighter and all the drama that would result had the holoscreens in a frenzy of speculation. They didn’t realize Cleopatra didn’t give a drat about the fighter. She knew who’d actually killed Aurelia.

After she’d burned up a firing range, and sulked sufficiently, Cleopatra decided to start her rebellion. But Barca wasn’t in the library.

She found him in his quarters, doing his own sulking. His good eye was bloodshot to hell.

“There were no robots in my battle,” Barca told her.


“They finally figured out what to do with all the surplus labor. They at least trained the group that stood in for my Roman soldiers. The stand-ins for the Gauls, they just gave rudimentary weapons. Untrained people don’t act like soldiers. It was a massacre.”

It took Cleopatra a moment. “Wait, they replaced the robot soldiers with people? Regular people, the kind you can’t repair?”

Barca nodded.

“Well. I’m starting the rebellion. I have, oh, a few dozen who have pledged to join. Perhaps a few more after we start. I figure we’ll all die.”

“And what are you fighting for?”


Barca laughed, a harsh, stilted laugh. “I don’t know what that is.”

“The ability to choose your fate. I’ve read about it. Now I want it. So do the others.”

“No one chooses their fate. We’re all slaves to circumstance and society. You think the people I slaughtered had any real choice? The elites are slaves too—slaves to their hedonism and status. They could no more say ‘no’ to pleasure and cease their frenzied scramble for prestige than we could stop fighting.”

“So you’re turning down my offer to join?”

Barca was silent for a time. “Do you know why Hannibal never conquered Rome? Because Rome was not its leaders, nor its elites, nor the city itself. Rome was a culture, an idea. The idea that defeat was not an option. He would have had to kill every Roman in the world, and even he couldn’t do that.”

Cleopatra glanced back at the hall. “This is no Rome we are fighting.”

“No, of course not. But these games, they’re beloved. Sure, the elites put them on, but it’s the people who love them. If we go to war, it’s not against your hated elites. It’s against a culture. We’ll find allies, I’m sure, just as Hannibal found Gauls and Greeks to join him. My refusal to join before was always the most ethical choice. Kill a few people here and there, rather than perpetuate some endless war.”

“What changed your mind?”

Barca played with a spark on his fingertip. “They want me to fight Cannae next. They want to use people again. They want me to slaughter seventy thousand people. The last battle—it was a test to see if people would care if real people were killed en masse. They didn’t. No surprise, I suppose.”

Cleopatra extended her hand. “We can change this. Together.”

“Perhaps. Or perhaps we’ll become slaves of a different sort.” He took her hand, and for a moment, his lightning danced around them both.


They burst from the Colosseum as a storm. She was the impetus, and he was the mind. Cleopatra led with her caduceus, the symbol of healing, and Barca led with his sword, blazing with lightning.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:20 on Jan 8, 2018

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"
Brothers and Sisters
1297 words, Tetris Hard Mode

It has Baba Yaga in it b/c the inventor of Tetris was Russian, ok? :cool:

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Jan 1, 2018

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Opuntia (540 words)

He said he’d be back. She believed him. Eleven years later she still believed him.

She’d grown up under the open sky, ten miles out from anywhere, lean and scrawny and full of gristle. She kept a vegetable garden on the roof, and a chicken besides. The chicken’s name was Ben. The chicken’s name was always Ben. Sometimes Ben was a rooster. Right now it wasn’t, and wasn’t likely to be again. She liked having eggs in the morning too much.

She was good with her hands. Real good. He’d taught her. She knew machines. Better than people. They often sought her out, the legendary third-rate mechanic. They said she could fix anything.

He found her peeling potatoes on the porch. A drop of civilization in the middle of the desert.

“What can I do you for?” she asked. She wore a tired smile. She always wore a tired smile, with tired eyes. But her hands knew her work.

He had quiet eyes and hard features. He wore an aviator’s jacket like a Roman legionaire. He stepped off his Harley and removed his hat. He always removed his hat for a lady.

“Heard you got a knack for fixing things.”

“Where’d you hear that?”


“If you’ve been around you know there’s better than me.”

She got up out of her rocking chair and stepped out into the heat. Her shirt was dirty, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, but her hands were clean. She washed them thoroughly. Always.

She scratched the back of her head.

“Well, what’s the trouble then?”

“Nothing special. Need some maintenance, that’s all.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s all.”

Off the side of her house she’d hung an awning. There in the shade she kept her tools, her trinkets, whatever she was working on at the time. A menagerie of metal parts and protrusions.

She cleared some space for his bike. He rolled it in. “There’s water if your thirsty.” She said. He wasn’t.

After eleven years it came naturally. She did delicate work, her hands on automatic. In another life she was a concert pianist, a sculptor, a surgeon. It didn’t matter whether it was an engine or a toaster. She knew machines. Inside and out.

He sat in silence as she worked. She was in her element, threading the chain, making adjustments. She was beautiful. She’d only become more beautiful over the years. He flexed his fingers, felt the pain.

“There,” she said. She wiped her brow. “Should last you awhile longer.”

“Much obliged. What’s the rate?”

“Heh,” she laughed. “For an old dear like this? Seven hundred.”

He didn’t correct her. He shelled out the price in folded bills, creased and crinkled.

“Ought to set up shop closer to town. You’d do better for yourself.”

“Well maybe I like it here,” she said. She didn’t tell him she was waiting for someone. He didn’t correct her. He sat himself down on the seat, his hands finding purpose in his grip.

“Well then…later.”

“Yeah, later.”

He put the keys in the ignition. The motorcycle roared to life. He gave her one last look and was gone. She watched him leave, a thought in her mind.

The sky was clear and blue and endless.

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005

“I said ‘moo.’” It was all that Frank heard before a pair of fingerless gloved hands shoved him, knocking him to the ground. Frank’s violin case, clutched between his hooves, slipped from his grip and crashed open on the cobblestones. People laughed, though whether due to the man’s words or Frank’s fall, neither Frank nor his son, Daniel, could tell. But to Daniel it appeared as if every face on the street, humans and bovine alike, held a mocking gaze. The mere sight of Frank, in Daniel’s mind, seemed to inspire revulsion everywhere he went. It was due to his stoop shoulders, small horns, ground down to almost nubs, and the spotted white and black pattern of the common dairy cow.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Frank said as he wrestled with his violin.

“Who are you apologizing to?” Daniel asked as he lent his father a trotter. “That man just rolled right over you, he should be apologizing to you, Pa!” It was an old argument, it always made his blood boil to see his father allow himself to be treated like cattle. Yet Daniel did nothing, instead he told himself that his father never changed.


It was the longest night of the year, and once upon a time Daniel could recall his mother, Celeste, dragging Frank outside to join the town’s festivities. The three of them, hooves hooked together, lighting candles as they went door to door, sharing a glass of honeyed milk with their neighbors. In those days, with his mother there to spur them into action, they would make their way to the town square where music was played and everyone sang and danced in the street, fighting back against the winter gloom with life and love.

But it had been years since then.

After his mother had died the life and love of Daniel’s early childhood, well, it had died too. Never again did Frank go outside for the festivities, and so there was no more dancing or singing in the streets for Daniel either. Then, when he was older, Daniel had gone to university.

It was then that Frank had decided to get a violin.

Every year when Daniel returned home for winter break he had been puzzled by the sight of the musical instrument. Which he never once saw or heard his father play.


Frank looked up at his son with watery eyes. “You don’t need to stay with me, Danny. You should go, you’re a young Bull, and there are plenty of cows out tonight huh?” Frank smiled.

“No,” Daniel said. “I’m not a…” Bull, he thought. I’m not a bull, I’m cattle, just like you. But instead he said, “I’m not in a mood for any of that. Besides, it's too crowded.”

Frank looked at the ground, he was standing now, violin case once more saddled between his front trotters. “You know I met your mother at a dance? It was just after the war.”

“I know, Pa.”

“She always said I brought music to her life, but, Danny, your mother was wrong. She brought music to mine.”

Daniel grew impatient and took a few steps away from his father, heading down the street in the direction toward their house. “Uh huh.”

“It's important, Danny. You will understand some day.”

Daniel caught his own reflection in a candle lit window. He saw the same small horns, though his were never ground down, and the same common patterning as his father, albeit with more of his mother’s coloring. He was nothing special, just cattle. He frowned and saw his father looking at him from behind.

A twinkle had formed in Frank’s eyes. “Would you like me to play for you, son?”

“No, dad, don’t be absurd,” Daniel said, though he wanted to tell him that cattle can’t play the Violin, after all they didn’t have any fingers. But his father was already kneeling down and pulling back out his violin from its case. Somehow, with obvious practice, he fitted the neck of the violin in between the two segments of his trotters’ hooves, and similarly held the bow.

Daniel was dumbstruck by the sight, never before had he seen any bovine hold a violin let alone attempt to play one. But without any hesitation his father slid the bow across the violin's strings.

It made a godawful sound, like that of quarreling cats.

People, human and bovine, stopped dead in their tracks and stared at the particular sight of a bull with a violin nested against its neck. Daniel could feel blood rushing to his face, but then, gradually a tune became apparent. It was simple, one note at a time, warbling here and there, but it gained in confidence as it progressed.

It wasn’t the prettiest of tunes, but it had something resembling a melody.

And so people gathered, man and bovine, with smiles on their faces. A group of calves hooked hooves together and danced in a circle. And then, here and there in the crowd, Man and Cow, Woman and Bull, danced together.

“Pa,” Daniel said. “Will you play me another?”

The moral of the story is: There is always hope.

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005

Goddamnit, wrong button.

Story title was: For All The Cows

Word count was: 860.

Game was Diablo II.

Siddhartha Glutamate fucked around with this message at 09:06 on Dec 18, 2017

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Codenames 950 words also I hope you had a miserable birthday for giving me this crappy game Ent

“Big Papa, in position.”

“Moominmamma, in position.”

“Yeah,” said Kayla. “I’m here.”

“Use the codename,” said Dad. Or rather, Big Papa.

Kayla sighed. “Can I pick a new codename?”

“What’s wrong with your codename? I think it’s cute,” said Moominmamma.

“Sure, if I was two.”

“Come on,” said Big Papa. “We can talk about codenames once we’re finished the job.”

Kayla sighed. “Baby Girl, in position.”

“All right,” said Moominmamma. “On three, I’m going to cut the alarm. Baby Girl, you’ll have exactly ten minutes to get in, get the package, and get out.”

“I’m literally going to just walk in, grab it, and walk out. If I crawled, which maybe I should, given the dumb codename you’ve given me, I could still do it in nine.”

“No need for sass, young lady.”

“Please use the codenames, Moominmamma.”

Moominmamma took some deep breaths with her eyes closed. “One day, Baby Girl, I hope you have a child who gives me as much grief as you give me.”

“You know,” said Big Papa, “I don’t want to interrupt the two of you, but…”

“All right,” said Baby Girl. “Let’s get this done.”

“One,” said Moominmamma. “Two.”

“Wait,” said Baby Girl.

“What?” asked Big Papa.

“I gotta go to the toilet.”

“You didn’t think to go before the heist?” asked Moominmamma.

“I didn’t need to go, then.”

“All right, fine,” said Moominmamma. “Make it quick, though.”

Kayla left her seat and went to the toilet. Once she’d finished, she washed her hands and used some of the water to style her hair. Unfortunately, being an international jewel thief meant eschewing the more remarkable hairstyles she would’ve liked to try out. If whatever footage they might have showed a young girl with a green mohawk, for example, it would be a very simple matter, she supposed, to round up all the ten-year-old girls with green mohawks. So, she had a simple ponytail, with a dumb fringe that she hated. She sighed heavily. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy liberating the wealth of the corporate fat cats in their ivory towers, counting their ill-gotten gains – ill-gotten because they were in bed with the government as they crushed the honest working man under his boot, or whatever…

It wasn’t that, but the clothes and hair that went with it was so drab. Just once she’d have loved to walk into town with a kickin’ rad outfit and a really sweet fluorescently coloured hairstyle.

“No heavy sighing over comms,” said Moominmamma. “Are you done yet?”

“Yeah,” said Baby Girl. “Just getting back in position.” She walked back to the bench near the door that had been left unlocked. “Baby Girl, in position.”

“All right,” said Moominmamma. “One. Two. Three. Alarm is cut, you’re up.”

Kayla got up off the bench, put her gloves on, walked to the door, and let herself in. “I’m in,” she said. “This place is nice.”

“Of course it is,” said Big Papa. “They’re rich.”

“All right,” said Baby Girl. She walked to the master bedroom, opened the door, walked over to the jewelry box and took the jewels. “I’ve got the package.” She walked back out of the two doors, closing them behind her. “I’m out again. That was intense. I don’t think I can take this excitement.”

“No need for sarcasm, young la- Baby Girl,” said Big Papa. “Proceed to the rendezvous point.”

Kayla walked around to his parking spot and got in the back of his car. Then they drove around to the back of the building and picked up Moominmamma.

“Can we drop the codenames now?” asked Baby Girl.

“Not until we’re back at home base,” said Big Papa.

Baby Girl didn’t respond, because it was at this point that a police car pulled out of a side street behind them and turned on its siren.

“It’s the fuzz!” said Baby Girl. “Can I put on chase music?”

“Yes,” said Big Papa, as he got in his fast driving pose. “Yes you may, Baby Girl.”

So, Baby Girl pressed play on her getaway mix, and Big Papa pressed play on the accelerator of the car. They drove down alleys and lanes, the wrong way down one-way streets, cut through someone’s backyard, and then, “I gotta go,” said Baby Girl.

“You’ve what?” asked Moominmamma.

“I’ve gotta go,” said Baby Girl. “Bad.”

“You just went,” said Big Papa.

“That was just number one,” she said. “Now I gotta go number two.”

Big Papa sighed. “We’re about to pass by a fast food restaurant. Are you ready for the grab and go routine?”

Baby Girl nodded eagerly. She’d trained for this, but never gotten to use it for really real. So, their car, with Big Papa at the wheel, screeched around the corner on which stood a fast food establishment that won’t be named in this account. As they rounded the corner, Baby Girl jumped out of the window, crouched into a roll and sprang back to her feet at the door of the restaurant. Kayla rushed through the door and into the ladies’ toilet.

A minute or so later, Kayla said over the comms, “Baby Girl here, I’ve dropped off the package.”

“You’ve what?”

“Oh, not that package,” said Baby Girl, patting her pocket. “I mean I’ve ‘gone’ now.”

“All right,” said Big Papa, “we’ve managed to ditch the fuzz. We’ll come and pick you up.”

And so, they came and picked her up, and drove home. “Another job well done,” said Moominmamma.

“Does that mean we can drop the codenames, now?”

“Yes, Kayla,” said Mum. “That was a fantastic grab and go, good job.”

“Thanks, Mum,” said Kayla. “Now, can we talk about a new codename for me?”

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
Submissions are closed

Jan 18, 2015

Prompt: The Secret of Monkey Island

No Reason to Try

Wordcount: 359

"I want you to know," the man in a neat gray suit said as he raised his bloodied fist again. "I'm not doing this because I hate you." He looked down with distaste on the man he was pinning to the ground. The man was, in contrast, wearing baggy clothes that were garish and slightly uncomfortable to look at.

The fist descended and more blood splattered on the ground. "Don't get me wrong. I hate your guts," He readied his fist once more and lifted Braec Schaveic's head up by his neck. "But this is purely business, Mr. Slavic. Nothing personal."

"It's Schl-" The next strike hit squarely between Braec's eyes, and, as his head bounced off the wooden floor with a loud thud, he slipped into a welcoming unconsciousness.

He woke up some time later, and the first thing to assail him was the smell. It was foul, no doubt about it. Something had died recently, and it had not been pretty. 

He tried to shake the fog out of his eyes as he sat up, but the room was much too dim for him to make out any shapes.

Where am I, he thought.

As his vision steadied and he got used to the gloom, he started picking out more details. One of the biggest being the huge cauldron spewing foul-smelling green smoke on to the floor not far from him.

The fire beneath it was the only source of light, and it cast eerie shadows on the wall. 

Suddenly there were a shuffle, from beyond the cauldron.

"Oh! You're awake!" The voice was bright, to the verge of being shrill, and he could see a shadow moving where he'd heard the voice from.

"Wait a sec! I'll turn on the light." Another shuffle, and the sound of something falling followed by an "Oompf!" and another shuffle.

Suddenly the room was flooded by a bright light, and as Braec blinked to adjust his eyes he could see a petite woman standing by the door, nursing a bumped knee. 

"Sorry about that. I like to keep the lights off while I meditate." She looked at him sheepishly.

Sep 22, 2005

I failed to deliver on time but I'll be late posting today. Just uh, so, there's that.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

interprompt: shot down, in a blaze of glory

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011


sebmojo posted:

interprompt: shot down, in a blaze of glory

Ad Astra, Proxime
160 words

"OK Jim, auto sequence is GO"

"Thanks control, green across the board up here too"

"Twenty-five seconds down."

"Don't forget the new program today Jim, sequence begins at plus 30."

"Thanks control, won't do."

"Engine start."

"Five, four, three..."

"Engine at one hundred."

"Here we go!"

"Clock is running, all looks good."

"Bit of wind today."

"We're all watching down here Jim, best of luck."


The explosion is blinding even at the viewing field. The guests gasp at the bright yellow cloud, and again when the shockwave hits seconds later. Then another explosion, bright green this time with glowing white sparkles that leave a burning afterimage. Purple and blue secondary munitions go off, creating a distorted smiley face high above the desert. The crowd applauds wildly, barely audible over the booming pop music. At ground level catherine wheels ignite.

"Mission successful folks, good work. All right Flo, auto sequence is GO, thirty seconds 'til launch."

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

sebmojo posted:

interprompt: shot down, in a blaze of glory

Mosebjo awoke in the cold dawn light. His campfire had burnt down to ashes and the rising sun was casting grotesque shadows over the headless corpses that surrounded him. He stood and surveyed the blood soaked battlefield below.

A loan figure standing amidst the carnage caught his eye. It was a horse, its dead rider's booted foot stuck firm in one of the stirrups. Mosebjo could see a track in the dirt across the battlefield where the horse had dragged the corpse as it struggled to get away, but it had become entangled with a pile of bodies and anchored the poor animal to the spot.

The horse's ears tracked Mosebjo suspiciously as he approached. Good, he thought, it has not given up on life yet. He approached its shoulder slowly, eyes down, non-threatening. Carefully he pulled his dagger from his belt and slid it along the horse's side. With a flick he cut the leather girth and the saddle slumped from the horse and onto the pile of bodies, sending up a cloud of black flies. The horse darted forward with fright but Mosebjo had a firm grip on its reins and pulled it around to face him.

As he scratched the horse's wither to calm it he noticed a fat green caterpillar crawling in it's shaggy mane. Gently he lifted the insect up with his thick, rough fingers. "I will call you Caterpillar," he said to the horse, before popping the wriggling morsel into his mouth. It was disgusting, but so was everything else he'd eaten recently.

"Time to go Caterpillar," he said, swinging himself onto the horse's back and turning its head to face the wide open steppe beyond the battlefield's edge. The horse was exhausted but its desire to escape this horrible place spurred it on, and they galloped forward. Joy filled Mosebjo as the wind hit his face, at the exact same time as an arrow thwacked into the thick leather armor covering his chest.

As he fell from Caterpillar's back he caught site of a lone archer, standing up from where he had been lying concealed amongst the dead.

"gently caress," thought Mosebjo, as the ground smacked him in the back.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Don't doxx me

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

sebmojo posted:

interprompt: shot down, in a blaze of glory

:siren: Thunderdome CCLXXX Judgement – Game Over lol and other video game jokes in the title :siren:


I've never said this before about a week of Thunderdome: good job, you didn't suck. No really, I enjoyed judging this. Thanks. Maybe I'm getting old and soft but it's almost like multiple years of practicing how to crank out flash fiction stories from 9 to 10 PM Sunday paid off.

First, let's look at the Hard Mode challenges:
Siddhartha Glutamate narrowly defeats Freakie by judge fiat. The other judges thought a story about violin playing cows was a bit silly, and yeah it was, but I absolutely loved the dynamic between father and son as it was portrayed here. It gave me the feels, and that's something I've been missing in Freakie's entry. That said, Freakie, dude, this was a solid story and I've been hearing some good things from the other judges about how you applied criticism from last week to visibly improve yourself. You weren't the one who entered the hard mode challenge and your story was by no means bad, so you're obviously not eating a DM for this. Keep going, you're doing fine.

We argued about the Tetris fight more than we did about winners, because for their respective strengths and weaknesses these stories were equal. But draws are for pussies so sebmojo wins a cowardly win with a very sebmojo story that was fun to read while it lasted and turned out to be much cleverer than we'd known for the better part of actually reading it. Dr. Kloctopussy, your story was original and ambitious but in the end it felt like you overreached and couldn't keep up with your own ideas, good as they were. god have mercy on my soul what have i done

On to the results proper:
First of all, congratulations to The Saddest Rhino, who sits his rear end back down with an honorable disqualification for writing about one of the rats from Bad Rats: the Rats' Revenge discovering that they are in the video game Bad Rats: the Rats' Revenge. I'm calling it an honorable disqualification not because it's an honorable mention along with a disqualification, but because the fanfic you wrote wasn't complete utter poo poo so you're just getting disqualified instead of tarred, feathered and banned from ever touching a keyboard again.

The sole dishonorable mention goes to BabyRyoga for writing about pokemon, but the pokemon are live animals who eat children, but it's not actually about the live animal pokemon who eat children, but about the minds behind the live animal pokemon who eat children, and their mission to.........??????????

The pokemon story would have lost but then Fuubi came along with a story thing. I don't-- I don't know. I DON'T KNOW

This was a good week so there's a bunch of honorable mentions:
Thranguy – I love how this totally incorporates a bunch of Max Payne poo poo right down to the bullet time and the original Max Payne Vibe™ without coming off as a cheap Max Payne knockoff. It could be right at home in the universe, but it's totally its own thing.
Fumblemouse – Your story got stale at the middle part but until then I pissed myself with laughter so thanks for bringing some good comedy into this lovely writing thread. Honk.
Sebmojo – you win the party
Dr. Kloctopussy – I know you're supposed to DM but I'm still the boss of this stupid writing contest and your use of the prompt was so loving genius that it still puts a faint smile on my face. What can I say, zero backbone, who judges the judgemen etc
Obliterati – Your story was such, such a strong win contender. I loved it to bits, and there was a lot of arguing about this, not because it was so divisive but because it was pretty much on par with the winner. In the end, two things went against you: we all were a bit confused by your ending, and the incorporation of your video game was not quite as well realized as the winner had done it. But well loving done. This is cocaine in writing form and I legit want to see more of this kind of poo poo from you.

The winner is Kaishai. Kai, I was personally torn between your piece and Obliterati's, but the other judges ended up preferring you. There's some nitpicks here, but that's for crittin'. Right now I'll just say this: your piece was absolutely beautiful, heartfelt, original and a great use of the prompt. Well loving done and godspeed, you gentle soul.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

Crits for Week 280

Overall, this was an interesting week to judge, and overall I feel like it was pretty solid. The most common mistake this week, in my eyes, was using either way too much or way too little of your video-game prompt; I know strict prompt compliance isn't a major Thunderdome value, but some of these either felt fanfiction-y or really made me squint for prompt compliance, which doesn't help with getting absorbed in your story. With that in mind, here are my thoughts.

Freakie, "Ashes"

First off: I can really see effort here to work on the stuff pointed out in your crits for last week's story, so good work there. This piece definitely feels more complete than that one, and there's definitely more happening. Good bulking up!

Overall, I think this is a pretty adequate version of a not terribly interesting story. A lot of it feels kind of mechanical, and I wish there was more emotion here; the biggest offender here is Carrie's chain of thoughts about the hellhounds and imps, which sound like how you'd think about video game enemies ("dumb, move in patrols") and not how someone actually in Carrie's situation would feel. I feel like this story wants to be about hope and perseverence in the face of terror, but there's just not enough terror here, not enough genuine emotion about her hometown turning into a hellhole. Really playing up how recent the event was and the horrific changes to Carrie's familiar hometown would have been more effective, and I wish you'd done more than just gesture at it. More emotion would also have rounded out the characters some, which I think would have helped; we never quite get a feeling for these people besides fairly stock characters in their situation.

Thranguy, "Time Flies Like a Bullet"

A nice dirty little crime drama, with the weird-drug and revenge elements from Max Payne, along with the overall tone. I confess that I'm not insanely fond of the "while I'm about to die, let me exposit the whole plot to this point!" device, but the weird drug in question makes it plausible enough.

My main issue is that I'm mostly puzzling over some elements of the plot. What I'm gleaning from this story is that the narrator actually did get married/buy life insurance/hire the killer/etc. and just forgot about this, but how does that work? Did he lose time somewhere? It seems confusing that that'd happen given that Slowdown seems to do the opposite; is there a memory effect here? I feel like I'm missing a piece of the plot here. Overall, it's an effective story, but that's bugging me.

Fumblemouse, "Indistinguishable"

So... basically Space Station 13 with wizards, is what I'm getting out of this. It's reasonably clever, but it doesn't really feel like it goes anywhere or does anything meaningful, and I think it's kind of too long for its jokes and too self-consciously clever. (The adaptive name thing is cute, for example, but kind of overlabored.) I know the clown actually has a very slight plot role to play, but the clown being there is way too on the nose as an SS13 thing, in my opinion. This is competent enough, but I feel like I wasted my time.

apophenium, "The Effects of Stressors on the Creativity Displayed in Simple Logic Problems"

I'm very ambivalent on this story. On one hand, I feel like its core message is a brilliant riff on the act of playing puzzle games: the tension between simply performing the (usually very simple) task at hand versus doing it as well as possible, and the desire for the game to judge you clever for mastering it. Taken as an allegory about that process, this story is really good. On the other hand, taken as a surface-level narrative, it's pretty unsatisfying. The main character is a cipher -- I guess they're supposed to be an alcoholic in dire straits, hence the whiskey musings and indifference to their puzzle-solving conditions? (Or is that a metaphor for game addiction/poopsocking?) The experiment doesn't make a ton of sense and is hard to suspend disbelief about. There's no real progression of plot, almost no character beats, and the prose is workmanlike. Not really a fun or satisfying read.

BabyRyoga, "The Rightful Heir"

Like Fumblemouse's Space Station 13 story, this one feels too on the nose with its game references, and to a much greater degree than FM's. See, it's Pokemon, but as some kind of military project, and before the Pokemon battle starts one Pokemon kills the kid! (This isn't really funny, incidentally, even as black humor. That sort of thing needs a deft hand, and that hand isn't there.) There's also a major focus on telling over showing, like in the first paragraph:

Briggs, a ranked official who wore a uniform, emblazoned with various ribbons and medals

If you just describe Briggs as wearing a medal-emblazoned military uniform, they'll get that he's a high-ranking officer without you having to tell it. I'll reiterate something you got in a recent crit: trust your readers. (The ending has a similar issue -- you're telling us about how things fell out and the moral, not just describing the fallout and letting them make their own conclusions.)

big scary monsters, "Call of Duty"

I enjoyed this piece overall, but it feels like it has the opposite problem from BabyRyoga and Fumblemouse's pieces: the video-game influence feels vestigial and not really important, almost distracting. Why is Aslak driving a truck here? It must be part of his getaway plan, but it's also just a commercial truck... really, it feels like he's only driving the truck because you had to work Big Rigs into a story idea you already had, and it kind of muddles things. Honestly, the plot and situation here feel overly obfuscated as a setup to your twist. It's a decent twist, but the desire to obscure it from the reader makes the leadup more confusing than it should be.

Otherwise, pretty successful. I will say that I generally don't like untranslated dialogue, like you do with Aslak's speech, but that may be my own quibbles.

Kaishai, "Phoenix Sonata"

This is one of my favorite stories of the week, and I honestly don't have a lot of crit about it. This feels like a well-formed fantasy piece, with good solid worldbuilding for its wordcount and a complete arc. The Hatoful Boyfriend content is a little bit subtle, but I think it's there; you've got avians, ghosts, love, and grief, and that's Hatoful enough for me.

Obliterati, "CONSEQUENCES"

This is another good one, albeit one that took me a little while to get the video-game influences from... but we've got a woman held captive in a castle, which is probably Super Mario Brothers enough. The story itself is good solid SF, evocative and sensible without doing a ton of worldbuilding, and I liked it. My only complaint is that the ending is slightly difficult to figure out; it took me a really careful re-read to figure out Andrea's motivations in freeing herself and then staying captive. Still, really good work.

The Saddest Rhino, "Rage Quit, Restart"

The major problem with this story is that it is way, way too Bad Rats, which I know is also the point. I feel like there's a core concept here, about meaningless "holy" wars against pointless targets and the cycle of death (although using the suicide-bomber rat for it is maybe a little on the nose), but... this is just Bad Rats. Actual Bad Rats is being played here.

I want to like it. I really do. It's reasonably thoughtful and clever about Bad Rats and its core idea re: Bad Rats. But it just can't get past being Bad Rats.

(Bad Rats Bad Rats Bad Rats are we all semantically satiated yet?)

flerp, "Same"

This feels... nice, but insubstantial to me. I'm not totally sure what concept's being taken from Minesweeper here -- I guess the idea that minesweeping is a death-wish sort of activity, tying into the concept of suicidal urges? It's all right, but it feels like a sketch, not quite fully realized. I'm not totally sure why the second-person narrator, either; it's not bad, but it doesn't lend a ton.

Uranium Phoenix, "The Die Is Cast"

What I'm getting out of this is "what if Overwatch were real-world bread and circuses for a corrupt elite, instead of virtual bread and circuses for guys on Twitch?" That's a solid enough concept, but I feel like the real issue here is that the characters don't click. Okay, so Cleopatra wants a revolution, and then her friend(?)/comrade(?) gets for-real killed, and this... doesn't seem to have meaningfully changed her plans at all, except to affirm that it's pretty lovely being a cyborg gladiator? Barca's motivations are more plausible, but it seems weird that we focus on Cleopatra's experiences when she doesn't actually change because of them. This might be a better story from Barca's perspective, and it could also stand to be less dry. Give these characters backstories (unless the point is that cyborg gladiators are vat-grown or whatever and don't have mundane histories, in which case, show us why Barca cares about mundane human casualties) and more flavorful personalities.

sebmojo, "Infinite spin"

Another one with very subtle use of its video-game elements, but I see what's going on here with the geometry of movement around the party in space -- pretty clever. I confess I sort of wish that this wasn't another party story so recently after your last one; it feels a little one-note and stale. I appreciate the concept that this is sort of a magical-realism thing, with Barry summoning parties in order to "win" them, but there isn't a lot of substance here or reason to care about anyone involved (the previous party story was better about this). Pretty good, deft and fun, but insubstantial.

Dr. Kloctopussy, "Brothers and Sisters"

I enjoyed this story overall, but I confess I was a little thrown by the introduction of the mythical Baba Yaga into a dystopian SF setting. Is this actually the far future of mythic Russia, or did she just wander here? I realize the viewpoint character wouldn't acknowledge this as an issue, but as a reader, I would have appreciated at least a little explanation.

The other issue I had with the story is that it felt a bit rushed, especially towards the end. There's a lot of great ideas here (I love your interpretation of Tetris), and there's some real ambition, but I got the feeling time got away from you? This could be expanded and polished into a stronger story.

Bad Seafood, "Opuntia"

I get that this story is supposed to be sparse prose about opaque characters, but I think you go too far on both the sparseness and the opacity. The major thing is that spare prose needs to be highly polished, and this isn't polished nearly enough; there's a "your/you're" error ("if your thirsty") that becomes even more glaring for being in such a short paragraph. As for the characters... well, I assume the point here is to leave the reader wondering, but this story leaves so much opaque that it's kind of frustrating. The woman's waited for the man for 11 years, then doesn't recognize him -- why not? The man knows her and clearly has fond memories of her, but he doesn't say a thing and rides off again. Once again, why not? You don't have to spell the answers out explicitly, but it would be nice to have some sort of clue in the story.

On the positive side, the setting descriptions here are really quite beautiful. This story paints a vivid scene of its wasteland setting, and I enjoyed that element a lot. I just wish there'd been more to the rest of it.

Siddhartha Glutamate, "For All The Cows"

I suspect this story is one that will either really work or really fail for a reader, and for me, I'm afraid it mostly failed. The absurdity of the cow metaphor turned this into nonsense for me, and it took me several reads to try and glean some kind of intention from it. (I think the idea is that the cows represent society's underclass, with the father's violin playing representing someone disadvantaged by society reaching for art ahd beauty they've always been considered to be incapable of?) But, um, it's still cows. All I could picture was the Far Side.

There's a decent core of emotion here, although it's pretty familiar territory: the beleaguered patriach, the son ashamed of his father's weakness and low status, and the shadow of the dead mother. It's a well-done version of the basic tropes, though, just... with cows. I just keep running into the silliness of that metaphor, and it gives me a lot of trouble appreciating this story, even though I suspect there's a good core here.

Chairchucker, "Codenames"

Like sebmojo's piece, this story gives me the feeling of a Dome veteran treading familiar ground; unlike sebmojo's piece, I don't feel like this is successful even divorced from the author's history. There are some very droll moments here -- the concept of very self-important burglars committing very pedestrian crimes is worth a chuckle, and I liked "no heavy sighing" as the punchline to Kayla's preadolescent angst moment -- but it doesn't really add up to much. Here's this family; they commit an easy crime, with no conflict or danger; a few minor conflicts arise, all of which are dismissed without meaningful incident. There's just not really anything here, unfortunately, besides a few cute jokes.

Fuubi, "No Reason to Try"

Uh, yeah, so you posted this! It's good to post TD stories. It's better to post TD stories that have endings and go somewhere. I get the impression this is just the fragment you could produce before deadline (well, slightly after deadline, but whatever), and I'm not sure there's enough here to meaningfully crit. Honestly, in this case, it'd probably have been better to fail and post a redemption once you had a complete story.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Thunderdome Week CCLXXXI: We Wish You a Merman Christmas!

Judges: Kaishai, sebmojo, and Ironic Twist.

Christmas time is here!
Sparkling tails and cheer!
Fins for all that Kaishai calls
Her favorite time of year.

Mermen from the sea
On your Christmas tree.
Join and nab some rippling abs,
Your muse this week to be.

Deck the halls with abs and sparkles! If you remember Thunderdome Christmases of yore, you know what you're in for; if not, gather around the hearth and let me tell you about the spirit of the season. There's a company called December Diamonds that makes each day merry and bright by producing fine, dazzling specimens of festive aquatic beauty, and each of you is going to choose one (or more!) to call your very own. Write a story inspired by your epitome of mermanhood. You don't have to write about mermen; as long as I can see your ornament's influence somewhere in the story, you're good. That's not to discourage you from taking the literal path, though! Do whatever brings joy to your heart and puts words that don't suck on the screen.

You may be able to find additional merman options on Amazon or eBay, and I encourage you to do so if that puts you in touch with the beefcake (surf and turf?) of your dreams. First come, first serve: choices are exclusive. If all else fails, you may ask to be assigned an ornament at the price of a 200-word penalty.

In the spirit of giving, I offer a way to win those words back or expand your limit: post a crit for an entry from this year to receive 200 additional words. These percentages of crits by week can help you find the stories that could most use your feedback.

No fanfiction, nonfiction, erotica, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, or quote tags.

Happy holidays!

Sign-up deadline: Friday, December 22, 11:59pm USA Pacific
Submission deadline: Monday, December 25, 11:59pm USA Pacific--yes, that's a whole extra day. Did you think judging was going to happen on Christmas? Oh, you!
Maximum word count: 1,500

flerp (+200 words): "It Won’t Hurt Him at All"
sparksbloom: "Plans"
Thranguy: "The Skull Beneath"
GenJoe: "For Guys and Girl"
Antivehicular (+200 words): "How to Die in the Arms of a Merman"
Yoruichi: "The Cowboy's Sparkles"
Uranium Phoenix (+200 words): "Remembrance"
BeefSupreme: "Out of the Raines"
Siddhartha Glutamate
Morning Bell (+200 words): "Weapons and Vices"
The Saddest Rhino: "Tank!"
Bad Seafood (-200 words): "Cookery"

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 00:42 on Dec 27, 2017

Feb 25, 2014
yes i knew this was going to be the prompt and yes im in of course im in how am i not in? and im :toxx:ing

Apr 30, 2006

In. :toxx:

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:sassargh: This is not related to the prompt! :sassargh:

In case Thunderdome Christmas carols sound entertaining rather than appalling to you, I recorded a few last year, and you can find them here. The songs' individual pages include the lyrics.

Sep 15, 2010


That's just a bullshit word.
hi in


Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Crits for week 280
In order of submission

I had fun judging this. Sorry I can’t be bothered to draw you fancy graphs. Hit me up in IRC if you want to know more about my opinions about food.

Freakie: Ashes

I like the cool post-apocalyptic setting by it’s undermined by the fact that you say that “just a few weeks ago” everything was normal, and now she’s a knife wielding bad-rear end. What the heck happened and how has she managed to adjust so fast?

This is a bad sentence: “Lyra lied next to the now-dead demon, motionless.” Lied should be “lay”. “Now-dead” should just be “dead”. Why is she just lying there? Is she badly injured or just really sleepy?

At the end of your story you say that the “ash and smoke was gone”. (It should be "were gone"). Smoke disappearing is fine but removing a thick layer of ash that covers a whole town is quite a thing. Where has it gone? Is it all piled up outside the town? Was there a giant storm that for some reason didn’t wake her up?

I have never played Diablo so your ending is lost on me. Someone familiar with Diablo might have enjoyed this a lot more, I dunno.

If this story were food it would be plain toast with nothing on it.


Thranguy: Time Flies Like a Bullet

This is pretty cool. The fact that you know he’s definitely going to die and the suspense of waiting for his decision works well. I like the way the backstory is revealed piece by piece, and the twist at the end. However, while it’s interesting and well structured, for me it plays out a bit too slowly.

If this story were food it would be toast with jam. Good but not amazing.


Fumblemouse: Indistinguishable

Yay this is great! I loved the deadpan humour and the way the ship’s name keeps changing. I was genuinely interested in where this was going.

But the ending is not as good as the rest of it. It’s not clear if Jamison was just guessing about the null zone or if he really did understand what was going on, and something about the ending just didn’t read right to me.

If this story were food it would delicious bacon and eggs where you find a bit of eggshell in the last mouthful.


Apophenium: The Effects of Stressors on the Creativity Displayed in Simple Logic Problems

This was weird and didn’t seem to have any point. Someone volunteers for a simple study in order to get $50, then promptly goes insane, stays at the lab for a month, apparently making GBS threads in a bucket, and then gets turfed out on his arse. The end. What?

Apart from punctuation errors at least it’s not badly written.

If this story were food it would be lettuce on toast.


BabyRyoga: The Rightful Heir

This is not good. It’s like a mildly interesting story (real life pokemon battle) nested inside a dull and nonsensical story (two officials in an unexplained lab gently caress around making bad decisions but then bureaucracy saves them from any consequences).

The most interesting part - what is the experiment about? Who are the boys? What are they doing there? - goes unexplained.

If this story were food it would be watery scrambled eggs, with a tomato in the middle for some reason.


Big scary monsters: Call of Duty

Lol! This was a little slow to get going - the first para I thought was a bit overwrought - but once it got going it was great. I like the stream of consciousness paragraph, that worked well. The trolls vs. elves fight was nicely done. The punchline was predictable but still well delivered.

If this story were food it would be hash browns. Yum.


Kaishai: Phoenix Sonata

This is genuinely lovely, I really enjoying reading it.

I’m not going to compare it to food, that would be rude.


Obliterati: Consequences

I like the idea behind this, and way the aliens and the setting are described. I like the slowly building tension, but then the ending falls flat. It’s a promise to do something in the future, whereas I would’ve rather read about her stabbing an alien now.

If this story were food it would be like a good meal where you really want dessert but then there isn’t any dessert.


The Saddest Rhino: Rage Quit, Restart

This is quite clever, and nicely written. It didn’t really grab me though.

If this story were food it would be colby cheese.


Flerp: Same

Well this is a depressing one night stand. I like the way you’ve portrayed the awkwardness of a very intimate conversation with someone who is essentially a total stranger. I enjoyed reading this but I felt like there wasn’t quite enough to it, it seems more like the start of a longer story than a single self-contained story.

I’ve been largely ignoring proofreading errors this week but the fact that the end of this sentence is missing is, er, problematic: He throws his shirt over his face and says, “.

If this story were food it would be cold leftovers eaten alone.


Uranium Phoenix: The Die is Cast

This is cool! But it feels like it’s just the set up for a longer story. I like the characters and the sci fi colosseum setting. I want to know what happens next.

If this story were food it would just be an entree (noting that everywhere outside of North America entree means the starter that you have before the main meal).


Sebmojo: Infinite spin

Oh lol this appears to be a sequel to Piss. This was a fun read, and a great interpretation of the prompt.

If this story were food it would be, naturally, spontaneous backyard BBQ and beersies.


Dr. Kloctopussy: Brother and Sisters

Wow this is pretty dark. The idea of a city sinking level by level is a great interpretation of the prompt. The sense of Anya’s guilt is really well done.

But I was slightly confused as to what Baby Yaga is and why she appears to be planning to eat Anya when she said the deal was “you stay with me, be my servant.”

If this story were food it would be dark chocolate, good and bitter.


Bad Seafood: Opuntia

So he’s the guy she’s waiting for, but after 11 years she doesn’t recognise him and he doesn’t say anything? Whyyyyyy? I thought the setting was beautifully described and I was pretty interested in these characters, but then he just leaves.

If this story were food it would be a mouthful of something delicious, but too small to be satisfying.


Siddhartha Glutamate: For All The Cows

Why are the characters in this story cows? Why does a cow playing the violin badly mean there is still hope? Why cows?!

If this story were food it would be banana flavoured milk.


Chairchucker: Codenames

Cute. Admirable commitment to poo jokes. Not a whole lot else going on though.

If this story were food it would be a McD’s cheeseburger.


Fuubi: No Reason to Try

Late and unfinished and bad. In my view submitting something, anything, is better than failing to submit at all, so I give you two points for turning up.

If this story were food it would just be a collection of ingredients waiting for someone to make them into dinner.


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